Lake Michigan’s name is derived from the Ojibwa word Michi Gami, meaning “large lake.”
It spans the entire west coast of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, and it is the only one of the five Great Lakes that is located entirely within the United States.
Michigan’s third largest lake with a water surface area of 22,300 square miles, Lake Michigan’s expansive shoreline boasts several stunning dune regions. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is home to cascading sand dunes reaching as high as 450 feet above Lake Michigan. Others include Nordhouse Dunes at Ludington and Warren Dunes State Park near the Indiana state line, as well as the Gillette Sand Dune Visitor Center at P.J. Hoffmaster State Park in Muskegon. The lake also contains numerous islands, notably the Beaver Island archipelago and the North and South Manitou Islands located between the Upper and Lower peninsulas.
There are 59 lighthouses that stand on the beaches of Lake Michigan as reminders of the importance of the centuries-old shipping industry, a story told well at the Michigan Maritime Museum in South Haven. Michigan's western Great Lakes region benefits from a unique climate, which creates a favorable environment for growing a wealth of agricultural products. The state is a leader in many crops including blueberries, cherries, asparagus and grapes for juice and wine. This has allowed a variety of orchards and vineyards to thrive along Lake Michigan. A trip isn’t complete without dipping your toes into the freshwater and watching a Pure Michigan sunset.
With dunes taller than you can imagine above the sparkling waters of Lake Michigan, a variety of unique hiking trails and a scenic drive with breathtaking views, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is a must-see on your Lake Michigan adventure.
More than 100 lighthouses line the beaches on Lake Michigan, and 59 of them are in Michigan. No matter your Lake Michigan destination, there are a plenty of lighthouses waiting to be explored.
You can't do much better than the Leelanau and Old Mission scenic routes. These drives are maximized for incredible coastal escapes and amazing fall colors.